Warwickshire Rural Hub
Legislation & Regulation
Changes to general licences for bird control
Natural England is revoking three general licences for controlling certain wild birds as of Thursday 25 April 2019. These licences cover 16 species of birds including several members of the crow family, Canada goose, some gulls and pigeons. Natural England is working to put in place over the next few weeks alternative measures to allow lawful control of these bird species to continue where necessary. In the meantime, once the licences have been revoked and until new licences are issued, anyone needing to control one of these 16 bird species where there is no reasonable non-lethal alternative will need to apply for an individual licence. The action is the first stage of a planned review of general and class licences, which will be completed this year. For further information please visit the Defra website.
Respond to planned tenancy reforms
Plans have been put forward by Defra for a radical shake-up of agricultural tenancy legislation in England and Wales, with a key aim of making it easier for people to enter and exit the industry. Consultations have been launched and the deadline for responses is 2 July 2019.
The papers set out options that ministers hope will create opportunities for new entrants, who they say will bring new skills, ideas and innovation to the sector. The proposals are broadly based on the work of the Tenancy Reform Industry Group (TRIG), which made a series of recommendations to government back in 2017.
To respond to the Defra consultation please visit this page.
Storage and spreading of manures post Brexit
In the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal, farmers may find themselves in a situation where they face added pressures on the storage and land-spreading of organic manures, digestate, waste and potentially waste milk. The NFU has been informed by the Environment Agency (EA) that current regulations on the storage and land-spreading of these materials will remain in place as it currently stands unless further notice is given by Defra or the EA.
Have you registered for Tax Digital?
The government’s new digital tax initiative due is due to be introduced on 1 April 2019, but according to a Freedom of Information request it appears that over 1 million businesses are still to register. This factsheet from Hub Business Supporter Ellacotts will give you further information on the new initiative and whether it applies to your business.
Increases to National Minimum Wage on 1 April
On 1 April 2019 the National Minimum Wage will increase:
workers aged 21–24 — from £7.38 to £7.70 per hour
workers aged 18–20 — from £5.90 to £6.15 per hour
workers aged 16–18 — from £4.20 to £4.35 per hour
apprentice rate — from £3.70 to £3.90 per hour
The National Living Wage (NLW) rate for workers aged 25 and over will increase from £7.83 to £8.21 per hour.
Please note that these increases are not optional and employers found to be in breach of the regulations will be subject to penalties and payments in arrears to affected employees.
Farmers are warned about new welding regulations
Farmers are being warned about new rules to reduce exposure to welding fumes following a recent reclassification by Health and Safety Executive (HSE). There is new scientific evidence from the International Agency for Research on Cancer that exposure to welding fumes can cause lung cancer and possibly kidney cancer. As a result, HSE announced in February that with immediate effect, it is strengthening its enforcement expectations for welding fumes on the basis that general ventilation does not give sufficient control. HSE will no longer accept any welding undertaken without suitable exposure control measures being in place, regardless of the duration. To read the full article please visit this page.
Reminder of key dates in April
1st You must not burn heather, rough grass, bracken, gorse or vaccinium on land, other than in upland areas, from this date.
1st If you hold a winter or all year round water abstraction licence the Environment Agency will make actual abstraction return forms available to you from 1 April.
16th You must not burn heather, rough grass, bracken, gorse or vaccinium in upland areas from this date.
30th You must have recorded the number of ‘specified’ livestock kept on your farm during the previous calendar year and calculated the amount of nitrogen they produced. You must also record the number and type of livestock in a building or hardstanding during the previous storage period.
Farming Rules for Water
The new Farming Rules for Water will be enforceable from 2 April 2019. The rules standardise good farming practices that many farmers are already demonstrating following on from the Codes of Good Agricultural Practice. The rules are separate from cross-compliance. Full details of the new rules are available here.
EA position on flexing of water abstraction in 2019
The Environment Agency has published a document setting out how it will approach the flexing of abstraction conditions in 2019 in order to respond to a dry spring or summer. You can download the document below. You will need Acrobat Adobe to read the pdf document.
Key dates for BPS, CS and ES
The Rural Payments Agency has put together a timeline of the important dates for 2019 to be aware of for Basic Payments Scheme, Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship. The dates and further information are available on the RPA website. Alternatively you can download the calendar here.
BPS and Greening requirements for 2019
In common with previous years, the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) will run for the full calendar year (1 January to 31 December 2019). Those who are intending to claim BPS for 2019 will be required to comply with the BPS requirements for the entire year, despite the UK’s decision to leave the European Union (EU) in March 2019. This includes cross compliance and greening requirements.
Download the Guide to Cross Compliance in England 2019
The new guide to Cross Compliance rules in England for 2019 can be downloaded here.
There are no confirmed policy changes to the rules for 2019. However, please be aware that for SMR 1 Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs) land that was in an NVZ for the first time in 2017, transitional arrangements have been in place to not meet some of the NVZ rules. These arrangements come to an end in July 2019, when the requirement to meet all the NVZ rules starts on 31 July 2019. For more information read SMR 1: Nitrate Vulnerable Zones on page 39 of the guide.
Making Tax Digital starts on 1 April 2019
With effect from 1 April 2019, if your taxable turnover is above the VAT registration threshold you must follow the Making Tax Digital rules. Full information is available here.
Nitrate Vulnerable Zone/Drinking water safeguard zone map published
The final map showing Nitrate Vulnerable Zones and drinking water safeguard zones has been published by the Environment Agency. 55% of England’s total area is designated an NVZ.
Updated information on riparian rights
Updated information on your responsibilities and rules to follow for watercourses on or near your property, and permissions you need to do work around them, have been placed on the Gov.uk website. Visit the link below to view the information.
New rules for fertilizer management to protect water quality
From April 2018 all farmers in England will need to follow a new set of farming rules for water. New regulations will now be made which will give these rules legal force from then. The rules will:
• promote good practice in managing fertilisers and manures through eight rules covering planning and use, storage and application of fertilisers and manures and soil erosion measures
• encourage land managers to take reasonable precautions to prevent diffuse pollution from runoff or soil erosion
• require soil tests at least every 5 years on cultivated land
• protect land within 5 metres of watercourses from significant soil erosion by preventing poaching by livestock.
Further details can be found on the website below.
Enhanced TB control measures
From November 2017 enhanced TB control measures will be introduced to reduce the risk posed by inconclusive skin test reactors. This follows on from a consultation held in 2016.
All inconclusive reactors (IRs) in the High Risk Area (HRA) and Edge Area (and in TB breakdown herds in the Low Risk Area) that have a negative result on re-testing will remain restricted for the rest of their life to the holding in which they were found. The only permitted off movements for such animals will be to slaughter (either directly or via an Approved Finishing Unit).
Warwickshire re-classified as fully in the Edge Area for TB
Following a public Defra TB consultation held in 2016, and an informal consultation held in October 2017, Defra has announced enhanced cattle measures in the Edge Area; which will take effect from January 2018.
The changes from January 2018 include re-classification of Edge Area counties. The following part Edge, part High Risk Area split counties will be re-classified as fully in the Edge Area
Warwickshire and Oxfordshire
East Sussex, Derbyshire and Cheshire
Government announces plans to introduce trickle irrigation licensing
Defra has announced plans to end water abstraction licensing exemptions in England and Wales. It is expected that these changes will be made shortly, opening a two year abstraction licence application window on 1 January 2018.
It is estimated that 5,000 existing operations will require an abstraction licence for the first time and expected that most applicants will successfully secure abstraction licences that meet their historic needs. Exempt operators such as trickle irrigators will have two years to submit their licence application with effect from 1 January 2018. The licence determination process must be completed within five years of the application window opening.
Reminder on water abstraction licences
If your current water abstraction licence is due to expire, and you want to continue to abstract, you need to apply for a new licence at least 3 months before the existing licence expires.
For more information on applying for a water abstraction licence, please visit the website below.
EU vote not to block changes to greening rules
The EU Parliament has voted not to block proposed changes to greening and other elements of BPS rules. The ban on the use of plant protection products on field-based Ecological Focus Area options will therefore come into force. No timescale has been given.
Please be reminded that Dewlap tags, which are inserted through the dewlap of cattle, are legally classed as a mutilation (Animal Welfare Act 2006). Using the dewlap tag is therefore illegal and if farms are found to be using these tags at an RPA or APHA inspection it will be considered a rectifiable breach and will incur a penalty.
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